Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

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Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Luke » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:18 am

Another thing which I found very peculiar about my first lama was that he never seems to give any empowerments. Although he is a westerner, he speaks Tibetan fluently, has completed a three-year retreat, and dedicates his life to Buddhism, so I'm pretty sure that he has all the knowledge about how to perform empowerment rituals correctly. He has visiting Tibetan lamas give the empowerments instead.

Do any of you have an idea why a lama would not give empowerments? To me, it seems very strange.

I feel great devotion and gratitude to all the lamas who have given me empowerments. I suppose I should feel gratitude towards anyone who I've received teachings from as well, but empowerments really seem to help the guru-disciple relationship and make it easier for me to see a lama as a Buddha. Why would a lama not do something such as this which is a great help to the guru-disciple relationship?

This creates suspicion in my mind and always gives me the feeling that this lama is perpetually "holding back," as if he's waiting for some student he wants to teach and none of us are it yet. This is another reason I've felt the need to seek another lama.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Heruka » Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:18 am

Luke wrote:
so I'm pretty sure that he has all the knowledge about how to perform empowerment rituals correctly. He has visiting Tibetan lamas give the empowerments instead..........

Do any of you have an idea why a lama would not give empowerments? To me, it seems very strange...............

I feel great devotion and gratitude to all the lamas who have given me empowerments.......................


This creates suspicion in my mind...................


This is another reason I've felt the need to seek another lama
.



yes! buddhism is quite good at getting under our dualistic skin.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby heart » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:45 am

Luke wrote:Another thing which I found very peculiar about my first lama was that he never seems to give any empowerments. Although he is a westerner, he speaks Tibetan fluently, has completed a three-year retreat, and dedicates his life to Buddhism, so I'm pretty sure that he has all the knowledge about how to perform empowerment rituals correctly. He has visiting Tibetan lamas give the empowerments instead.

Do any of you have an idea why a lama would not give empowerments? To me, it seems very strange.

I feel great devotion and gratitude to all the lamas who have given me empowerments. I suppose I should feel gratitude towards anyone who I've received teachings from as well, but empowerments really seem to help the guru-disciple relationship and make it easier for me to see a lama as a Buddha. Why would a lama not do something such as this which is a great help to the guru-disciple relationship?

This creates suspicion in my mind and always gives me the feeling that this lama is perpetually "holding back," as if he's waiting for some student he wants to teach and none of us are it yet. This is another reason I've felt the need to seek another lama.


Doing a three-year retreat don't make you qualified to give empowerment's. It takes a lot more than that. I suggest that you ask him about this because if I am right he is not "holding back" at all.

/magnus
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:01 am

Just personal conjecture for what that's worth(nothing)..

He could just not feel comfortable in that particular role. All Lamas are different and not necessarily abstract from the personal.

or he could have a reciprical arrangement with other lamas in other groups. Visiting lamas may tend to incite interest more commonly then the "house" lama. So such arrangements may have been made.
You do this here and I do that there....that type of thing.

And if he is a lama with a particular skill such as perhaps a certain language I would not rule out that he may be doing much work elsewhere at request of others. A bilingual lama would be quite in demand as a translator I would expect.

The idea he may be waiting for a special student....nah, not going to happen. I could elaborate.

Most likely to my uneducated view...he knows a lama must have the role of the buddha/whatever, when giving empowerments. It may be difficult if some students are very familiar with a lama to get the distance necessary to envision such even though they may greatly respect or like him. A certain distance is required for some students, otherwise a ceremony like it or not... is perceived more mundanely.

So most likely it would be to benefit students that are a bit too familiar. Not all lamas may feel that way but I suspect some do. I personally would agree with that. If a student or students are found to be because of circumstance not benefitting to the greatest extent by a empowerment given by them, it's certainly best others do it.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Luke » Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:35 am

Heruka wrote:yes! buddhism is quite good at getting under our dualistic skin.

But where's the dividing line between being "reasonable" and being "dualistic"?

If I go to a restaurant and place my order but don't receive any food after two hours, am I being "reasonable" if I leave and never go back there, or am I just being "dualistic"?

ronnewmexico wrote:And if he is a lama with a particular skill such as perhaps a certain language I would not rule out that he may be doing much work elsewhere at request of others. A bilingual lama would be quite in demand as a translator I would expect.

Actually, he rarely travels anywhere. He mostly stays at his home meditating and translating texts from Tibetan. He teaches about once or twice a month.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Jangchup Donden » Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:51 am

Luke wrote:
Heruka wrote:yes! buddhism is quite good at getting under our dualistic skin.

But where's the dividing line between being "reasonable" and being "dualistic"?

If I go to a restaurant and place my order but don't receive any food after two hours, am I being "reasonable" if I leave and never go back there, or am I just being "dualistic"?


I think you're being overly idealistic when it comes to this lama. I know more than a few westerners who have successfully completed three year retreats, and none of them give empowerments. In fact, the only person I know who has gone into three year retreat and later given empowerments finished not one three year retreat, but three consecutively and previously was a Tibetan monk.

Just because he doesn't give empowerments doesn't mean he isn't an excellent source of information, teachings and advice. If he's bringing other teachers to give empowerments -- that's because he views them as Buddhas, and you might want to think about taking one of them on as your Guru. But again here, you really should thoroughly observe that teacher so you can really trust them as a qualified Vajrayana guru.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby catmoon » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:04 am

It might be that he is trying to keep the lineage chains as short as possible. Why insert himself in the chain if his teachers are still alive?
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:30 am

heart wrote:
Doing a three-year retreat don't make you qualified to give empowerment's. It takes a lot more than that. I suggest that you ask him about this because if I am right he is not "holding back" at all.

/magnus


Exactly. And besides, in Vajrayana, even if one has undergone the requisite training and attained the ability to properly confer empowerments, one doesn't just take it upon oneself to do that; one is instructed to do that by one's guru.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Luke » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:44 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks for being willing to discuss my "lama drama" with me.

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Exactly. And besides, in Vajrayana, even if one has undergone the requisite training and attained the ability to properly confer empowerments, one doesn't just take it upon oneself to do that; one is instructed to do that by one's guru.

Interesting. The thing is that a Tibetan lama comes to gives empowerments who has the same root guru as my lama, so they are like "Dharma brothers." This Tibetan lama always acts as if my lama is the senior student and talks about how good my lama is. If my lama is indeed the senior student of his Tibetan lama, shouldn't he be the one giving empowerments? Maybe the Tibetan lama is giving them just for cultural reasons? However I have to add that this Tibetan lama is a tulku and was trained at Tsurphu Monastery when he was younger.

My lama's Tibetan guru is now very old and sick and he will probably die in a few years. Could this be what my lama is "waiting for"?

catmoon wrote:It might be that he is trying to keep the lineage chains as short as possible. Why insert himself in the chain if his teachers are still alive?

Actually, the teachers who visit our centers are not his teachers as far as I know. They are just good lamas who accepted his invitations.

Jangchup Donden wrote:Just because he doesn't give empowerments doesn't mean he isn't an excellent source of information, teachings and advice. If he's bringing other teachers to give empowerments -- that's because he views them as Buddhas, and you might want to think about taking one of them on as your Guru. But again here, you really should thoroughly observe that teacher so you can really trust them as a qualified Vajrayana guru.

A few of these visiting teachers would indeed make great gurus; however, the question is one of access.

Most of these great lamas just give public teachings to many people at which I only have the chance to ask one question--if I'm lucky. I would like a root guru which I'd have more personal access to. I don't want a root guru who I could never have a personal audience with. And I don't know what their schedules are or how likely it is that they will return. For example, right now one of these lamas (who is a great Drikung yogi) is now in another three-year retreat and is presently inaccessible. His final instructions before leaving were, "Practice Ngondro and Nyungne well." I've done some Nyungnes, but it irritates me that I am not able to follow the first part of his instructions.

***********
A final thing which adds to my distrust is all these beliefs my lama and sangha have about early Hungarians being Buddhists. Possibly this could be true, but it's not something I will believe blindly like my other sangha members do. I feel these issues create distractions from the core teachings of Buddhism sometimes.

I cringe every time I hear my lama start a story by saying, "Two Hungarians were riding to see Shakyamuni Buddha...." I'm open-minded, but I would need to see some solid proof before I believe such theories. I've never heard any Theravada scholars mention Hungarians. Such things are another reason why I feel uneasy with this lama.

My primary devotion is to the Three Jewels (and to a root guru, when I find one). Anything else is just extra.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:33 pm

It is generally considered that you have seven years to choose a Lama.

So not to worry. Anyone may dedicate themselves to it and they will suceed.
If one wants personal interviews and such(I certainly would) there are many many that fit that qualification.
One may have to travel but when one gets there if arranged one will get private interviews.
A close lama as I mention is not always best for all peoples. For some distance is best.
Hungry, maybe a english speaker...england may work for some people in that circumstance by this thinking.

There are very few comparitively well known lamas rinpoches who give private interviews only to monks in their lineage or others under special circumstances.
The inverse...there are thousands.

Three year retreat as has been beaten to death may have absolutely nothing to do with a lamas training.
Almost certainly not as regards a volume of empowerments. Three year retreats are very common but with differing focus. Could some receive empowerments and be able to practice them as result of a three year retreat....certainly, that probably occured. But training in empowerments is not the focus for a three year retreat most commonly. So that point is irrelevent.

Lama's however do not just become lamas in a lineage without training. I would assume the basic not exotic empowerments, are able functionally to be done, as they are so common. Lineage transmission requires the tranmission of empowerment ability. It is part and parcel of being a lama. Certain transmissions particular to school are certainly known and able to be performed.

I personally often worry discussing specific peoples or lamas as others may have thier faith weakened by such discussions quite unintentionally. It is certainly true there are some bad lamas. Anyone with experience in this will find some. But if there is some question....I tend towards the not discussing. Some hold only intention is required for karmic fault as strict is their interpretation of certain sutra. I don't hold that view. So I worry about those discussions at times if I so engage. So I generally do not unless it has good specific cause.

No offense intended to any or myself posting here on this subject as I am certain all intend good result, includeing the initial poster :smile:

Lamas however are virtually everywhere nowadays. Leaving a lama one has a connection to, regardless if one is likeing them or not, is very similiar to breaking up a marriage, even if this is not a lama one has abscrbied to as personal. It is very difficult and emotions arise.
That is normal and to be expected to my opinion. Suitablity is most important, and a connection may be maintained just not in the same fashion. AS one may perhaps remain friends after a divorce...or not.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby narraboth » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:38 pm

Oh, many lama don't give empowerments often, including some really great ones.

Traditionally there are quite high requirements for lama who can give empowerments. Probably your lama is very humble, or he doesn't want to have that kind of strong links with some students he doesn't really know, or simply he doesn't like it.

Three year retreat alone won't let a person qualified to give empowerment; finishing necesary retreat is just one of the requirements.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby plwk » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:48 pm

It is generally considered that you have seven years to choose a Lama

I thought it was 12-15 years? No? :shrug:
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:58 pm

I say generally considered.

I haven't found it written in stone anywhere I'm certain there are differing opinions :smile: One could take 20 years I would assume. One will not find oneself in vajra or any hell because one took to much time. That would be silly.

In the west people want things right here and now. We are talking days or months is what they want not years. I have seen that fail many times.
My post is not intended to infer we must set a watch and then 7 12 or whatever time then get a lama right then. But that these are the time frames of consideration....many many years.

It is not like falling in romantic love. We don't see someone and say...she/he if for me.
We must study and then beging the process. The student must be found worthy as well.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Luke » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:34 pm

In any case, my problem is already half-solved. I'll do a retreat with a new lama in December. That itself is a great blessing and a great opportunity to see this new lama up close. I'll try very hard to treat that lama with the utmost respect.

I've realized that my current negative emotions aren't benefiting any other beings. I should just hope that my present depression and confusion allows other beings to be liberated from similar depression and confusion in the future. And pehaps many of the excellent answers which many of you have posted in my threads may benefit other people with similar problems as well.

I have received empowerments from many other lamas (including HHDL). Even though I didn't meet with them individually, I should still reflect on their good qualities and be grateful that they gave me and many other people their blessings through the empowerment rituals.

In the mean time, I can continue my practices and I can read about the Shravakayana and Mahayana teachings which are the water from which the tree of Vajrayana grows. The teachings of peerless Buddhas are now so easily available in English that this should be a cause for me to feel great joy as well.

It's not easy being a western Vajrayana practitioner because we didn't have the good karma to be born in Buddhist countries or to spend our childhoods near Buddhist temples. But through our efforts, we can deepen our connections to Buddhism and help it blossom in the west for the benefit of all beings.

May the teachings of the Three Vehicles flourish in all corners of the world.

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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Heruka » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:43 am

Luke wrote:
Heruka wrote:yes! buddhism is quite good at getting under our dualistic skin.

But where's the dividing line between being "reasonable" and being "dualistic"?

If I go to a restaurant and place my order but don't receive any food after two hours, am I being "reasonable" if I leave and never go back there, or am I just being "dualistic"?




hi luke, i think the clue is in the expectation. if we travel to dharma center, to retreat, to a teaching. if we travel with idea of meeting great lama and have various expectations, im afraid buddhism can be a real let down in these things, very maddening at times. real rinpoches and lamas will simply not dance the way we would like them too. placing an order for food, one has a good chance of getting the food, it might not be what we wanted, it may not taste good, it might be cold etc, so many many different conditions can arise, the chef may have even quit that very moment.
the point is, it is not what arises in front of us, but how we are conditioned by its arrival.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:50 am

Hungry for empowerments

lol
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Heruka » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:02 am

empowerment's vary in there scope and gravity, size and time, they can be very subtle, short, small, minutes in length and sublime with no ceremony at all, or very elaborate and fancy, two day long, hours in length and so on bells and all.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby Luke » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:28 am

Individual wrote:Hungry for empowerments

lol

Then maybe I should go to Turkey.

lol

Heruka wrote:hi luke, i think the clue is in the expectation. if we travel to dharma center, to retreat, to a teaching. if we travel with idea of meeting great lama and have various expectations, im afraid buddhism can be a real let down in these things, very maddening at times. real rinpoches and lamas will simply not dance the way we would like them too. placing an order for food, one has a good chance of getting the food, it might not be what we wanted, it may not taste good, it might be cold etc, so many many different conditions can arise, the chef may have even quit that very moment.
the point is, it is not what arises in front of us, but how we are conditioned by its arrival.

I get what you're saying, Heruka, but to me it still just comes down to trust. If I trust the lama in question and simply am happy to be in his or her presence, then I will most likely be satisfied with whatever he or she teaches me. It's as much about the relationship as it is about the information. Some lamas I feel strongly about, some lamas I don't.
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby plwk » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:45 am

Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments...

Ah but are those seeking it ready for the responsibility/commitment that comes with it in some cases?
Or is it that some have a habit of making a 'resume' out of a list of such & such empowerments longer than a roll of toilet paper? Then they forgot what they have taken, from whom and what needs to be done...
Or treat it like some collectible candy bars? :tongue:
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Re: Lamas who never (or almost never) give empowerments

Postby mudra » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:24 am

plwk wrote:
It is generally considered that you have seven years to choose a Lama

I thought it was 12-15 years? No? :shrug:


I guess it depends who is talking. Some say its about 3 years for sutra, 12 for tantra. It really is more a rule of thumb, i think the bottom line is to really take enough time to be thorough.

On another note, There are different reasons why a lama might not give initiations (HYT particularly). It is a huge responsibility, and samayas are a two way street. Also as a few have pointed out, 3 year retreat is not a basic qualifier.

If you ask me, and bear in mind that I am quite ready to admit that I might be way off the mark, but bluntly: the fact that you think your Lama is holding out on you is a possible indication of an attitude which just might not be desirable in a student who would be expected to keep samayas pure.

Have you discussed the issue directly/openly with your lama?

Another thing is, we are all so keen to collect initiations, yet we understand so little about what tantra really is. In reality it's not for us to determine when we should have them, but for the teacher to. The irony is that we only understand that after we have pushed and pushed, or worse just gone out an got the initiation from any old lama who happens to be giving it in our neighbourhood, no prior questions asked.

It is not at all in the spirit of tantra/mantra/vajrayana.

Just a note - I am not talking from on top of a high horse, I understand your dilemma, and have been there (or somewhere in that region :) ) myself. We need to get a grip on what our real motivation and goal is, then the way becomes a little clearer.
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